Casino and Sports Betting Legislation Effort Stalls in Texas

Earlier this year, it seemed like lawmakers in Texas were going to be able to push forward and allow voters to decide if casinos and sports betting should be legalized in the state. Gambling interests came out in full force, spending millions to lobby residents as well as lawmakers to try and see the options become a reality. However, bills that were on the table, are not showing any potential to become law this year. This is unfortunate, as many people have shown support for the industry and would like to be able to take part or even offer services in the Lone Star State.

No Movement

In Texas, there is currently just under a month to go in the legislative session. None of the bills that would expand gambling in the state have been able to move forward. In general, the state constitution bans most forms of gambling, so legislation requires a two-thirds vote from lawmakers and then the majority of voters support to be legalized.

According to lawmakers, there just wasn’t enough support to get the ball rolling. This was especially the case once lawmakers learned that the budget deficits that they hoped to take care of with revenues from gambling would be less than expected.

For Senator Carol Alvarado, a lawmaker involved in the expansion effort, the momentum is there. She is quite optimistic that the end goal will be reached. A bill by Alvarado would allow voters to decide if the constitution should be amended to legalize gambling in Texas.

The main goal is to bring casinos to the major cities as well as sports betting throughout the state. The gambling legislation will also allow the federally recognized Indian tribes in Texas to offer full gambling on their land. This includes slot games, something that the tribes have yet to be able to do.

The Las Vegas Sands was a driving force behind the casino legislation effort. The company spent quite a bit of money to lobby the effort, including creating an advertising campaign to educate voters on what might be on the ballot this November.

Sports Betting Push

For the sports betting portion, the legislation would allow online gaming. The state would have the authority to sell skins to platforms that offer online sports betting, like FanDuel and DraftKings. The operators could have partnered with major sports teams or horse racing tracks to offer services. The professional sports teams in the state were excited about the potential opportunity and wanted the chance to offer services.

Dallas pro sports teams came together in what they called the Sports Betting Alliance. The NFL’s Cowboys, MLB’s Texas Rangers, and the NBA’s Mavericks all wanted to see sports betting legalized. The Alliance recently issued a statement, saying they are hopeful that a vote will take place soon to move legislation forward.

There is still time for the legislation to move forward, but it doesn’t seem like any consideration or vote is going to be provided at this time. Lawmakers behind the effort will have to keep gaining support and working towards having enough backing to see the option come to a vote and finally a ballot referendum in the future.

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Conor Stack
Conor is one of our main writers on USGS focusing on a wide range of industry coverage across sports, casino and poker.